Over There

Living with the U.S. Military Empire from World War Two to the Present

Over There

Book Pages: 480 Illustrations: 31 photographs, 6 tables, 4 maps Published: November 2010

American Studies, History > U.S. History, Sociology

Over There explores the social impact of America’s global network of more than 700 military bases. It does so by examining interactions between U.S. soldiers and members of host communities in the three locations—South Korea, Japan and Okinawa, and West Germany—where more than-two thirds of American overseas bases and troops have been concentrated for the past six decades. The essays in this collection highlight the role of cultural and racial assumptions in the maintenance of the American military base system, and the ways that civil-military relations play out locally. Describing how political, spatial, and social arrangements shape relations between American garrisons and surrounding communities, they emphasize such factors as whether military bases are located in democratic nations or in authoritarian countries where cooperation with dictatorial regimes fuels resentment; whether bases are integrated into neighboring communities or isolated and surrounded by “camp towns” wholly dependent on their business; and whether the United States sends single soldiers without families on one-year tours of duty or soldiers who bring their families and serve longer tours. Analyzing the implications of these and other situations, the contributors address U.S. military–regulated relations between GIs and local women; the roles of American women, including military wives, abroad; local resistance to the U.S. military presence; and racism, sexism, and homophobia within the U.S. military. Over There is an essential examination of the American military as a global and transnational phenomenon.

Donna Alvah
Chris Ames
Jeff Bennett
Maria Höhn
Seungsook Moon
Christopher Nelson
Robin Riley
Michiko Takeuchi


“... Over There quite uniquely engages an in-between heretofore almost entirely alien to scholarly inquiry: the volume focuses on the moments when and places where the U.S. military and foreign local populations encounter one another professionally, politically, romantically, and sexually within and around American military installations abroad. The volume is disturbingly timely... [and] will surely draw a lot of attention from students and scholars of military matters and their global character, critical approaches to gender and ethnicity, comparative sociology and history...” — Sabine Frühstück, Journal of World History

“I very much enjoyed this book and have already recommended it for the course our department teaches on war, peace, and society. The important work on Empire as an on-going discourse done by Höhn and Moon and their contributors will be useful to anyone teaching courses on the politics of Empire, gender and the military, and war and peace studies, to name only a few possibilities.” — Sara Buttsworth, International History Review

“This excellent and intellectually stimulating collection offers a nuanced interpretation of American military endeavour since 1945, demonstrates the social and economic impact of the bases on civilian populations as the military presence expanded and contracted, and successfully lays out the basis for how the U.S. military constitutes an “empire.”” — Angela Wanhalla, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

“. . . [T]his is a tremendously valuable book, brimming with new information and unique insights. All students of the global American military presence from World War II through the present will want to consult its essays. One hopes the authors will continue and expand upon their work in this burgeoning and interdisciplinaryfriendly field, and inspire others to follow their lead.” — Michael Cullen Green, Pacific Affairs

Over There provides us with an important analytic framework and reminds us that commanding officers must respond to and manage the real human needs of all those who come in contact with American military institutions. How this is done tells us much about the nature of U.S. power.” — John Willoughby, Journal of Military History

“[T]his is an important contribution to the study of empires, especially US imperialism. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.” — G. B. Osborne, Choice

“Maria Höhn and Seungsook Moon’s edited volume, Over There, presents valuable new scholarship on the local politics and gendered relations that constitute and undergird this vast military empire. ...the collection contains valuable essays on gender, race, class, and the U.S. military. It successfully positions U.S. military bases as key sites of U.S. empire and challenges scholars to work comparatively and recognize variation as they document the history of U.S. military bases abroad.” — Jana K. Lipman, Journal of American History

“This book gives a nuanced analysis of the power relations of the American empire and militarised masculinity within it... It is ... a most enlightening comparative overview of the impact of American military bases in the three most important host countries of the US military empire.” — Trond Ove Tøllefsen, European Review of History

Over There is a splendid book. Maria Höhn and Seungsook Moon are themselves experienced investigators into the multi-layerings of U.S. military influence in Germany and South Korea. Here they have combined their gender-smart research with that of insightful contributors to offer us fresh understandings of how German, Korean, and Japanese women and men see the American bases in their midst and cope with U.S. policies designed to make them complicit. I have learned a lot from Over There.” — Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War

“This wide-ranging, interdisciplinary collection makes critically visible the sprawling network of U.S. military bases in two inseparable ways. First, base societies are revealed to be diverse social landscapes in which global questions of sovereignty and the relations of unequal nation-states have been deeply imprinted on everyday life. Second, the book powerfully identifies gendered and sexual politics as central to the construction, and contestation, of the U.S. military presence. Richly attuned to local variation and perception, resistance and historical change, these essays offer an inspiring agenda for globalized histories of gender and U.S. militarization.” — Paul A. Kramer, author of The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Maria Höhn is Professor of History at Vassar College. She is the author of GIs and Fräuleins: The German-American Encounter in 1950s West Germany and (with Martin Klimke) A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany.

Seungsook Moon is Professor of Sociology at Vassar College. She is the author of Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations ix

Tables xi

A Note on Foreign Language Conventions xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction. The Politics of Gender, Sexuality, Race, and Class in the U. S. Military Empire / Maria Hohn and Seungsook Moon 1

Part I. Monitored Liaisons: Local Women and GIs in the Making of Empire

1. Regulating Desire, Managing the Empire: U. S. Military Prostitution in South Korea, 1945–1970 / Seungsook Moon 39

2. "Pan-Pan Girls" Performing and Resisting Neocolonialism(s) in the Pacific Theater: U. S. Military Prostitution in Occupied Japan, 1945–1952 / Michiko Takeuchi 78

3. "You Can't Pin Sergeant's Stripes on an Archangel": Soldiering, Sexuality, and U. S. Politics in Germany / Maria Hohn 109

Part II. Civilian Entanglements with the Empire: American and Foreign Women Abroad and at Home

4. U. S. Military Families Abroad in the Post-Cold War Era and "New Global Posture" / Donna Alvah 149

5. Crossfire Couples: Marginality and Agency among Okinawan Women in Relationships with U. S. Military Men / Chris Ames 176

6. Hidden Soldiers: Working for the "National Defense" / Robin Riley 203

Part III. Talking Back to the Empire: Local Men and Women

7. In the U. S. Army but Not Quite of It: Contesting the Imperial Power in a Discourse of Katusas / Seungsook Moon 231

8. "The American Soldier Dances, the German Soldier Marches": The Transformation of Germans' Views on GIs, Masculinity, and Militarism / Maria Hohn 258

9. In the Middle of the Road I Stand Transfixed / Christopher Nelson 280

Part IV. The Empire Under Siege: Racial Crisis, Abuse, and Violence

10. The Racial Crisis of 1970–1971 in the U. S. Military: Finding Solutions in West Germany and South Korea / Maria Hohn 311

11. Camptown Prostitution and the Imperial SOFA: Abuse and Violence against Transnational Camptown Women in South Korea / Seungsook Moon 337

12. Abu Ghraib: A Predictable Tragedy? / Jeff Bennett 366

Conclusion. The Empire at the Crossroads? / Maria Hohn and Seungsook Moon 397

References 409

Contributors 439

Index 441
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4827-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4818-4
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